LITTLE ROCK, AR--Hundreds of students, police officers and counselors are joining forces to tackle underage drinking and prescription drug abuse in Arkansas.
The Department of Health and Human Services points to research showing for the years 2010-2011 combined, Arkansas ranked third highest in the nation for non-medical use of prescription drugs among teens ages 12-17.
State leaders are hoping new grant money will help cut down those figures.
This week marks the 6th annual Underage Drinking and Injury Prevention Conference. For the first time, there is a separate youth track. The state is receiving roughly $1.7 million a year for the next five years to help prevent kids from dabbling in risky behaviors. Monday people representing youth programs from all over the state got together to learn how to use this money in their communities where many say there is a great need.
Sheridan student Hope Emerson says, "We recently had someone get caught with alcohol in school. They didn't make a big deal about it because it was stored in his car but still even that you could get in serious trouble."
Sgt. Allen Hamby with the Little Rock Police Department says, "I wouldn't say it's any worse than anywhere across the country but we want to slow it down so we can stop losing kids lives."
Along with the youth track, public safety officers and health officials are meeting to talk about the next big dangers for our kids and how police can help parents and community members recognize when kids are getting in trouble with drugs and alcohol.
The conference will continue through Wednesday in Little Rock.
Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.